Homestyle Vendemmia

November 2, 2010 / Local Interest
Assisi, Umbria
homestylevendemmia1Most small family farms in Umbria have a tiny vineyard just big enough to produce enough rough farmer’s red and white wines to get the family through the year. Where the big commercial vineyards are groomed and tended with science and care, these family plots are much more informal operations that somehow manage to produce a respectable wine against all odds. Here are some of the differences:

The big wineries carefully plan their vineyard and select grape varieties appropriate for the soil, sun exposure, and altitude, and consult with botanists, agronomists, viticulturists, and agricultural historians.

homestylevendemmia2We just go with whatever my husband’s grandfather planted together with his brother 40 years ago. If you ask my father-in-law what grape varieties he has, he will respond: Red and White.

The big wineries organize their grape harvest using white lab-jacketed professionals who begin to pick after monitoring the level of sugar, acid, and pH of the grapes.

Our grape harvest includes Zio Gino, Zia Viola, our neighbors, my in-laws, and my nine and six year old sons, and is begun after tasting a couple of grapes to see if they are sweet and monitoring the weather report on Rai Uno (the main public TV channel).

homestylevendemmia4The big wineries polish their wines with blending and fining, and stabilize them with preservatives and filtration. Their wines are bottled in new glass wine bottles, labeled beautifully and informatively, and shipped all over the world.

We open up the taps at the bottom of our barrels and vat in the spring, and drink whatever comes out. Our wine is incredibly instable; which means we drink it all here, just friends, family, guests, and the odd passer-by.

And I’d rather have that than be a big winery any day.


Rebecca Winke

by Rebecca Winke

Owner of Brigolante Apartments, a restored 16th century stone farmhouse / guesthouse in the heart of Umbria near Assisi, and blogger of life in Umbria. For tips and insider information about visiting Umbria, download her Umbria Slow App and see her writings on her personal website!

19 Responses to “Homestyle Vendemmia”

  1. The big wineries give us wonderful wines, the home-made wines give us the love and tradition of the family. Both are a joy. Thanks for sharing this beautiful part of Italian life.

  2. Thanks for a great story and bringing back great memories from my childhood. My grandparents in New Jersey had a small grape vine in the yard and as did we in our yard. My mom used the graped to make jams and jellies. My grandfather made wine. Growing up each grandchild had a different job to do( according to our age) to help make the wine. Each year as we got older we graduated to a different job.

  3. J. Bombace

    A very refreshing story and a great way to enjoy nature at its best, homemade vino. Bravo!

  4. I’m so glad there are still places in the world who do things the old way, and the good way!!
    I hope you may carry your wine-making on for many many years.
    Thanks for your lovely story and photos.

  5. Gian Banchero

    Mmmmmm, I can smell the sweet scent of the grapes, taste the freshly squeezed grape juice, savor the plump juicy grapes. Thanks for the treat!!!

  6. Silvia Matricardi

    How lovely, Rebecca! I wish I could help your family with the vendemmia….

  7. Rebecca at Brigolante

    Thanks, everyone, for the wonderful feedback!

    No, in the background you can see two of our guests at our agriturismo who helped us out in the vineyard this year. I tried to copy of a picture of flower printed dress and kerchief-clad Zia Viola here, but can’t figure out how to do it!

  8. I couldn’t agree more! When we lived in Sicily our friend Elio asked if we wanted some wine – that his friend had a winery and of course we said we did. We got a case of red wine – no labels on it – and it was the best we ever had. When we asked if we could get more he said no, that was it! It was all gone! Elio, would often talk of the difference between home grown and “industriale” (wines, cheeses, produce, you name it) – his friend’s he assured us was “non-industriale” and you could taste the difference! And only 1 euro a bottle! Thanks for reminding me of this wonderful time in our lives!

  9. We got red. We got white.
    Keep it simple. And it tastes just fine, I bet.
    Love it!


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